Long Beach, California – The approximately 400 sworn members of the Long Beach Fire Department now have a new contract after the City Council of Long Beach approved it in a unanimous vote on Tuesday night. The new contract is a three-year agreement that will increase salaries.
Pay increases of 5%, 4%, and 3.5% will be implemented throughout the course of the next three fiscal years as per the terms of the contract. In addition to that, it raises the skill pay for paramedics and firemen with more experience. The city thinks that this would help it retain and recruit firefighters at a time when it has been struggling to meet staffing levels over the last several years.
“It’s a very competitive market, and I look forward to Long Beach recruiting the best and the brightest,” Long Beach Firefighters Association President Rex Pritchard said.
It is anticipated that the salary raises would result in an extra expenditure of $14.4 million for the city over the course of the three years covered under the contract. Because of the higher pay and the new deal that is expected to be reached with the Long Beach Police Officers Association later this year, the city’s projected budget deficit is expected to grow to around $40 million.
In the most recent budget that was approved, the Long Beach Fire Department and the Long Beach Police Department accounted for around $327 million, which is 71% of the total $460 million general fund.
In addition, the city council voted to approve a new three-year contract with the union that represents the city’s lifeguards. However, the council expects that the yearly increases will have less of an impact on the budget. However, the increase will be paid out of the city’s Tidelands Fund, which is related to oil output and is supposed to be spent in coastal regions. Although the new lifeguard contract will cost the city around $1 million over the next three years, the increase will be paid out of this fund.
The contract will go into effect this month since it has already been approved by the Long Beach Firefighters Association, the union that represents the firefighters.